SC reserves verdict on plea challenging retrospective change in appointment order of ED Director

By PTI

NEW DELHI: The Delhi High Court on Tuesday said it will hear on September 21 Enforcement Directorate’s challenge to the notices issued to its officers by the West Bengal police pursuant to an FIR by TMC MP Abhishek Banerjee, who is under the agency’s scanner in an alleged coal pilferage scam.

Additional Solicitor General SV Raju, appearing for ED, contended before Justice Yogesh Khanna that the notices are patently illegal, malafide and a “counter blast” to the investigation in the case.

ED has sought a direction to quash the two notices and any other subsequent notices that may be issued in the FIR, saying that they amount to abuse of process of law and also to derail the probe in the coal pilferage scam.

“The notices will not stand scrutiny even for a minute,” Raju told the judge who deferred hearing on the petition, saying that the senior counsel for West Bengal will “take care” of the notices issued to the ED officers on July 22 and August 21.

“Once they are saying there is no other notice, we can fix (the plea for hearing) on Friday or Monday. Mr. (Sidharth) Luthra (appearing for West Bengal) will take care of it,” said the judge after taking note of Luthra’s submission.

“I don’t think there will be a problem. Mr Raju, take it from me,” said Luthra who also contended that the legal view was against the ED.

The probe agency submitted in its petition that in order to pressurize its officers probing an illegal coal mining case in exercise of its statutory powers under Prevention of Money Laundering Act, Banerjee, who is the nephew of chief minister Mamta Banerjee, lodged an FIR in April.

The FIR was lodged under various provisions of the Indian Penal Code for alleged commission of offences of forgery of records, forgery for purpose of harming reputation, defamation etc.

The petition filed through Central government standing counsel Amit Mahajan said that two notices were issued by the Sub Inspector, Special Cell (GS), DD of Kalighat Police Station, Kolkata to Enforcement Directorate (ED) officers performing their statutory functions in the Headquarters in Delhi.

“It is pertinent to mention that the Investigation into the illegal coal mining and the role of the complainant therein Abhishek Banerjee is being investigated by the Directorate of Enforcement in exercise of its statutory powers under PMLA in the Headquarters at New Delhi,” the plea said.

“In order to pressurize the Petitioners/ IOs investigating the case related to illegal coal mining, Abhishek Banerjee lodged an FIR on date 05.04.2021 , against a News Channel and in furtherance of the same, notices have been issued to the IOs investigating the case of illegal coal mining by the West Bengal Police. The said FIR has been registered with a malafide intention to derail the investigation under PMLA being conducted by the Directorate of Enforcement,” the plea said.

The petition alleged that the ‘West Bengal Police is acting at his (Banerjee’s) behest to derail the investigation being carried out by Enforcement Directorate’ and the motive behind registration of the FIR and the subsequent issuance of notices is only to harass the ED officers.